African women on the starting line for 2023

Oct 19, 2021

  • Africa is third continent to start qualifying for Australia / New Zealand 2023

  • Three-stage playoffs to distribute four direct tickets to the tournament

  • In the poster of the first round, a duel between Nigeria (11 times continental champion) and Ghana

The African qualifiers for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup are shaping up to be more exciting than ever.

For a very long time, Nigeria and Ghana have dominated African football without sharing, but like what happens in women’s football elsewhere in the world, times are changing on the Mother Continent. Equatorial Guinea shook the established order by qualifying for Germany 2011, imitated by Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire four years later, then South Africa confirmed the trend by securing its ticket to France 2019.

The starting cycle promises to be even more competitive: competition will rage for the four places (one more than in the previous World Cup) directly qualifying for the Australia / New Zealand 2023 tournament, whose format has was expanded to 32 teams.

Forty-four nations are taking part in the first qualifying round, which begins Wednesday for almost all the teams. The return matches played next week will halve the number of contenders: given the format of the playoffs, any misstep will be penalized. Morocco, host country of the 2022 CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, is also in the running: 45 nations are taking part in the World Cup qualifiers, a record.

The news

1st round
22 return matches October 20-26

2nd round
11 return matches
Dates to be confirmed

CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations
Morocco (host country) will be joined by the 11 winners of the 2nd round 2-23 July 2022

The top four will directly qualify for Australia / New Zealand 2023, while two more caps will play in the intercontinental play-off tournament.

CAF Women's Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2022 draw

The big names

Twist of fate, the Nigeria and the Ghana are opposed in what constitutes the most beautiful poster of the 1st round, following the regionalized draw. They are the two most successful African nations, with 11 combined appearances at the Women’s World Cup, a competition Nigeria has never missed. However, at the end of the second leg on Sunday in Accra, only one of these two giants will continue on its way. The Nigerians have had a relatively busy schedule in 2021, but under experienced US manager Randy Waldrum, the Super Falcons will be able to count on all their offensive stars, in particular Asisat Oshoala, the nugget of FC Barcelona.

the Cameroon made his mark on the world stage with a remarkable performance at Canada 2015. Indomitable Lionesses pushed the Japanese world champions to their limits, before securing a victory as unexpected as it deserved over Switzerland to advance to the knockout stage. Their star striker Gaëlle Enganamouit hung up their boots, which should not tarnish their optimism before facing neighboring Central African Republic, before a second round against the winner of Sierra Leone-Gambia.


The new faces

After narrowly missing its place for Canada 2015, theSouth Africa digested his disappointment and won his first appearance on the world’s biggest stage four years later. The Banyana Banyana held their rank at France 2019, but their year 2021 is mixed: a notable victory over Nigeria preceded a rare loss at the COSAFA Women’s Championship.

The Zambia defied the odds at the Tokyo 2020 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament: after having stood up to Brazil, she would have deserved better than a draw against China PR. Powerful striker Barbra Banda (21) proved to be a future world star there, scoring six goals in Japan after finishing as the top scorer in the Chinese league. Zambia, however, awaits a formidable adversary as it will face Malawi, which recently fell from South Africa.

The Tanzania has a modest track record – her only previous participation in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations dates back to 2011. Yet Twiga Stars have everything the outsider to be wary of, given their recent results. Invited to the COSAFA Women’s Championship, the Tanzanians brought down Zambia in the semi-finals, before seizing the crown by putting an end to the South African stranglehold on the trophy.

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